Surprise Sunrise

May 7, 2014 No Comments

Last month, Angel and I took full advantage of the free opening weekend in Yellowstone. The park is open year-round to snowmobilers and tours, but it isn’t until late April that they clear the roads from the entrance at West Yellowstone all the way to Old Faithful.

The best part about visiting early or late in the season is that you have far fewer tourists to dodge along the boardwalks. This trip was no exception – we had the park to ourselves one evening for a sunset shoot at the Fountain Paint Pots.

On the last morning of our trip, we awoke early for a sunrise shoot, as we had every morning. But this time, we decided we would “see what we could find” given that we hadn’t scouted out a location the night before (typically a very important part of a successful sunrise shoot). We found a spot as the sun approached the horizon, but it wasn’t quite what we envisioned, and we instead chose to park the car and enjoy the serenity.

Surprise Sunrise

It wasn’t until we began heading back that we caught the sunrise we hoped for. We were just south of Gibbon Falls, where nearby thermal activity and a crisp spring morning created a volumetric lighting effect as the already-risen sun pushed it’s way through the trees. It was a nice surprise and a great memory as we said goodbye to both Yellowstone and our extended stay in Montana.

Leave a Comment

It’s not always Purple and Peaceful

November 8, 2013 4 Comments

Last month, Angel and I spent a few days in Grand Teton National Park to do some fall photography. Heading out, we had visions of the photos we wanted to come home with. I wanted to photograph the famous Moran barn. The iconic shot against the Teton range as they’re painted purple, moments before the sun touches the horizon in the East.

It's not always Purple and Peaceful

But it didn’t go that way. In fact, when we arrived, we experienced a 40 degree temperature drop as an Indian summer gave way to what would be the first snowstorm of the year. A front that lasted three days and kept the majestic peaks out of sight for nearly the entire time. But that certainly didn’t mean lost photography opportunities. We planted our tripod, pointed the camera at the barn and we waited. Other photographers arrived and left during that time. From point-and-shoot tourist to those carrying large tripods, legs extended and cameras attached, perched casually on their shoulder.

The wind was strong enough that we knew things could potentially change very quickly. And they did. For a few moments – surprisingly during a period when no other photographers had ‘stopped by’ – there was a dramatic break in the clouds. The sun pushed through, illuminating the barn and adding contrast to the looming weather. Within minutes, things changed again. By this time, it was already 10 degrees colder than it was when we claimed our spot and set up our tripod.

As we headed back to Jackson for an IPA at the Snake River Brewery, we reflected on our experience. It wasn’t the iconic peaceful and purplish shot we envisioned. In some ways, it was better. A reminder that it doesn’t always go as planned, and you have to make the best of what’s given to you.

4 Comments  •  Leave a Comment

A Perfect Evening at Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin

January 31, 2013 No Comments

A Perfect Evening at Yellowstone's Midway Geyser Basin

It was about 5pm on one of those perfect October evenings, a couple hours before sunset, when Angel and I first headed into “the park”. We decided to go as far as Old Faithful and, hopefully, time things right to catch it’s eruption against an autumn sunset.

We were 5 minutes too late. With the sunset drawing near, we headed north towards Madison, agreeing that we’d stop at the next basin to get our fix of evening shooting. Pulling into Midway Geyser Basin, we were pleasantly surprised to find most of the people heading back to their cars and tour busses.

Within minutes, the light began changing rapidly; we picked a spot, set up tripods and started shooting. The shots we got in this short time frame ranged from vibrant oranges to cool blues, topped off by the steam rising from the geyser. As the light show drew to an end, we realized how cold our hands had gotten, as the temperature had dropped to around 40 degrees. We headed back to West Yellowstone for a burger and a beer, and reflected on one of the most memorable moments of our trip.

Leave a Comment